Organic Farm: Spring Planting

This week is spring break for the students at UT, which has given the interns a chance to do some work on the farm. Yesterday we prepared one high tunnel for planting by making rows, applying fertilizer and compost, and running drip irrigation. We planted half of the high tunnel with red gold potatoes, to be harvested in early June.

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Yesterday we also seeded cucumbers, squash, and zucchini that will be transplanted in the high tunnels, along with several varieties of flowers that will be planted in the field.

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Currently, we have all of our spring crops such as broccoli, kale, kohlrabi, and purple cabbage hardening off outside. These crops are ready to plant, but could not be planted today due to the windy weather. Alas, today the interns braved the wind in order to prepare rows to transplant later this week!Image

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We hope to work more this week and finish planting as the weather permits! Regardless of wind or clouds, it has been a beautiful week on the farm as the planting season begins.

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Soil in good heart….

About a week ago in my ESS 210 class, my professor screened a 13-minute clip on soil fertility to accompany his lecture on the similar subject matter. The clip summarized my thoughts, positions and approach to organic farming – a system that should support only the natural biodiversity of the soil which, in itself, is the full potential of the soil to improve its organic matter content and balance the quality of the soil with the minimum amount of external inputs by way of organic residues. Even though standardized by the NOP and other governing entities, organic agriculture has the potential to verge into conventional agricultural practices to a certain regulated standard. This will result into more damaging agricultural issues that have become a problem for the already approved synthetic products being used in organic agriculture today. The clip explores the idea that the fertility of the soil without synthetics or external inputs can produce a soil with high organic matter that can support plant growth and sustain soil quality to the extend of improving the soil’s fertility year after year. The video clip suggested that application of compost should be the only external input use to improve the soil fertility – it has been documented and experimented scientifically to improved yields, control weeds, pests and certain diseases, and a develop sustainable soil that will improve and grow in top soil inches year after year. Compost, just compost! 0316121353

If the intention or the potential of a plant is to create seeds and the soil to become fertile and the human to protect the integrity of the soil for food growth; this correlation between these three entities within each ecosystem across the globe represents what “true fertility” should be – the freedom of the plant, soil, and human to produce on their own terms.

Soil In Good Heart is a brief look at why good soil fertility is vital to life. It illustrates how valuable soil is to society and how it’s been neglected at our peril. The clip is a 13-minute excerpt from a full-length documentary entitled Symphony of the Soil. The clip is an award-winning clip receiving Special Jury Recognition Award at the Aspen Shortsfest Film Festival in 2010.

http://http://muvi.es/w698

Protect our soils

Love our soils

All wealth in today’s society comes from the SOIL.

Benefit from Rooftop Gardens and Greenroofing

Think that the city is a dead zone for nature’s bounty? Think again. Urban rooftop gardens provide a variety of benefits for those who dwell in an urban environment. The vast space available on rooftops is often a most overlooked area which, ironically, patiently overlooks us as we walk in the city below. People are increasingly beginning to realize that these spaces have an abundance of natural resources to be accessed. Rain water and sunlight, as well as ample breezes, are there to be harnessed for human use. It is not necessary to depend upon food from far off lands when living in a city. Healthy natural foods can be ours in the city, free of charge, with a little planning and some innovative construction.

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            The city of Chicago Department of Environment offers a free booklet that can be accessed on the web, called Guide to Rooftop Gardening. The booklet outlines the benefits of rooftop gardens and other “green roof” alternatives. The beneficial use of once-wasted space is not the only benefit of green roofing or rooftop gardening. The phenomenon known as the urban heat island effect, caused by dark colored and bare surfaces on the tops of buildings, is greatly mitigated by these practices. Urban heat island effect often causes temperatures to stay much higher in areas where cooling costs can be a serious issue, especially in the summer months. The higher temperatures increase the smog in an area and are a hazard to human health. The carbon dioxide and other effluent from autos and industry are trapped by the heat island and reduce air quality. Plant life on rooftops not only clean the air through photosynthesis, but the lighter colors of materials and flora in a rooftop garden will reflect sunlight and cool ambient temperatures which reduces the direct ill effects of urban air pollution.

The green roof concept can be applied to almost any building. Even in a suburban setting, a small green roof setup will help insulate a structure and reduce heating and cooling costs year-round. Rooftops in the city should come standard with solar panels and wind turbines considering the fossil fuel crisis currently plaguing the minds of sustainability advocates and well-informed citizens, alike. Rooftop gardens can delay the peak flow of falling rainwater and store it for use by plants. Pursuing a healthy hobby with aesthetic and physically rewarding outcomes are other reasons to get into urban rooftop gardening—not to mention, you could eat for free and the view is often a unique and beautiful vantage compared to the often cramped and busy city below.

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Chicago City Hall green roof is a beautiful site among the drab gray of the city.

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A rooftop in Camden, NJ. This was taken from an add posted by a company that will plant and maintain rooftop gardens for clients, a great business model for horticulture enthusiasts and sustainability proponents with some green-thumb skills.

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This rustic looking scene is pleasantly enhanced with the lush meadow-like feature covering the red house’s rooftop.

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Green rooftops can be for commercial business . . .

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. . . for residential application . . .

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. . . and for pleasure.

Wherever you may find your self, working with available natural resources to enhance your quality of life is always the right thing to do. Many studies have shown that humans benefit from a more natural environment in mind, body, and spirit. Better air quality, reduced climate control expenses, and even better memory and cognitive function are all rewards to be reaped with green-spaces. Why not incorporate one into the often overlooked spaces that were looking over us all this time?

All photos sourced from the web and are displayed under fair use.

2014 CSA currently open for enrollment!

Spots in the 2014 CSA are going fast!  Many have requested a place online to review the details of the CSA, and this is that place! If you are interested in fresh organic produce in 2014, this could be the deal for you!  Whether or not you decide to participate in the season-long CSA, we will always be happy to see you at the farmers market this summer where we sell our produce at a booth at the UT Farmers Market from May – October. It is located in the UT Gardens on the Agriculture Campus at the University of TN on Wednesday from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM

CSA information packet 2014

You can enroll by mail using the form at the end of the information packet above, or online by following this link.  If enrolling online, please follow the options for “UT Organic & Sustainable Crops”, then add CSA share to the cart.  Totals due will appear after the payment schedule has been selected.

Thanks for your support!